Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 - 1806)
- The Souvenir (Le chiffre d'amour)
- c.1775 - c.1780
- Oil on walnut panel
- Image size: 25.2 x 19 cm
Object size: 26.5 x 20.5 cm, made up with oak strips at each edge
- Signature: 'fragonard.'
- A young girl carves the initial of her lover on the bark of a tree, while observed by her pet spaniel, the symbol of her fidelity. The theme reflects the increasing sensibilité of the second half of the eighteenth century. Its scale and careful technique also show Fragonard varying his style to echo the contemporary taste for Dutch seventeenth-century cabinet paintings, although he continued to animate such stylistic references with his own inimitable theatrical lighting, delicate draughtsmanship and calligraphic traceries of hair and foliage.
The painting is remarkable for his play with the idea of the artist's signature. It is signed at the lower right in a traditional way, but the woman also carbes the letter 'F' (and not 'S' as was thought at some point) into the tree, thus signing the painting from within the scene.